Editorial : Hard to slow traffic

Last updated 16:26 13/02/2013

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Reducing the speed limit on State Highway 1 between Blenheim and Spring Creek might solve safety problems for road users, but it is likely to create another issue for them at the same time.

It is a stretch of highway through an area with little residential or commercial development and drivers are used to being able to do 100kmh.

If Marlborough Roads goes through with its plan to reduce the speed to 70kmh for the full 7 kilometres, the section of road will become prime hunting territory for police armed with speed radars.

Pinging speedsters is one of their jobs, and the road will be full of easy pickings.

When drivers familiar with the road do eventually become accustomed to the reduced speed, there will still be many motorists passing through - mainly ferry traffic - who continue to exceed 70kmh simply because it is an open section of the state highway and there is no apparent reason the speed should be lower than for most other sections of road.

Having said that, it will be similar - but not nearly as long - as the 70kmh zone at the southern entrance to Blenheim, which extends out beyond Riverlands School.

Putting aside the revenue gathering potential for police, Marlborough Roads sees good reason to reduce the speed limit because of the number of troubling intersections just north of Blenheim, mostly created by the main trunk rail line running alongside the highway. This reduces the space available for vehicles to turn into and out of these side streets without causing traffic problems on the main road.

The speed reduction is being combined with modifications to the intersections to improve safety for all traffic, and particularly motorists getting on and off the highway. This combination of solutions is seen as better than closing some of the intersections.

Reducing speed is the most cost effective way of improving road safety. Just do the paperwork and change a few signs. Residents in the Grovetown area will be pleased a solution has been found after several years of asking.

Once the changes are implemented, possibly as early as June, the hardest part will be educating drivers to slow down. Perhaps the police will be benevolent enough to have a week or two of warnings rather than coming down heavy-handedly straight away. Please.

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- The Marlborough Express

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